Ankah (ankah) wrote,

book reviews

So, my pop-economic reading list has been expanding and is keeping me very entertained as otherwise I'd probably slip into a state of walking mindlessness. I could totally be a zombie, I even live next to a grave yard.

"The Paradox of Choice" by Barry Schwartz is my favorite so far, simply because it is the most well argued and clearly relevant to current society ("Atlas Shrugged" is also fairly relevant but that is in a different category). While a little too much of the book was spent describing slightly subjective thought patterns that I'm not sure I'd agree with if I hadn't noticed myself having them prior to this book, in general it is a great argument and he has a lot of fantastic points. Although little long winded and overly stated, I do agree with this guy and wish he was my grandfather.

"Generation Debt" by Anya Kamenetz was interesting, and while I don't have mounds of student loans or any credit card debt (nor credit cards) owing money that a given career path doesn't seem likely to be able to pay back strikes me as a problem my generation is going to deal with. I liked the parts of the book about ageism, and hearing about the financial problems of other people my age, which, and call me sick if you must, makes me feel better about myself.

"The Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwell and "Freakanomics" by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner - I'm going to give both the same review of: Interesting read, great examples of modern applications of economics, but ultimately pointless. The difference is "Freakanomics" knew exactly what kind of book it was and made no pretensions, and "The Tipping Point" was almost pathetic in its attempt to be an argument. Also, the writers of "Freakanomics" were clearly economists, and Gladwell was what I have come to think of as a New York writer; namely overeducated for their ability and well trained to take pure abstract ideas and reduce them to pop-literature. Like taking a fine french pastry and mashing it to baby food, so everyone can taste it.

"Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand - I'm not actually though this one so this is a premature review, but I really like her argument, I just wish she wouldn't do it in the guise of a romance novel, it sort of ruins it. So far "The Fountainhead" was much better, although the premise of Atlas shrugged seems to be more unique (I'm pretty sure I know where this book is going).

I think I've read a number of fantasy novels as well (notably Robin Hobb's new series, which is... weird, and an anti-fat-discrimination argument? A little long winded, but worth the read if you're looking for some fantasy that is a little different from the the usual). I've recently read no other fantasy books worth mentioning because they were crap.

Having now read almost everything by Alexander McCall Smith, he has become one of my favorite writers. He just oozes grandfatherly detachment, observation and contentment which translates into an interesting and somehow "peaceful" read. I'd be hard pressed to decided if I like the Ladies' no.1 detection agency or the 44 Scotland street series better.

Next up I have an academic collection of articles from a conference trying to clarify the field of Risk Assessment, which might actually get my brain kick started, but might also make me decide it IS summer and to go back to reading the fantasy novels I have with wolves on the cover. I also have one more pop-econ book, "The Undercover Economist" which I'm looking forward to. Ariana, I have your Handbook of Experimental Economics in my Amazon cart, but possibly not the chutzpah to read it. We'll see how desperate I get this summer.
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